For some people, the idea of a nuclear war is unimaginable. Others, conversely, make plans. In 2015, the American citizen, Brazilian born, Samuel S. Saraiva received a home improvement license from the Maryland State Department of Licensing, which enabled him to develop, in the metropolitan area of Washington, DC, a project to build shelters to protect American and foreign families in the country.
That would be a bunker or haven that serves as a shelter from hurricanes, earthquakes, or possible air, chemical or nuclear attacks.
Yesterday, six years later, journalists Ambar Phillips and Caroline Anders had published an article, in The Washington Post, addressing exactly the prospect of imminent nuclear attacks.
In conceiving that project, Saraiva demonstrated respect for the old saying that is still remarkably present in the English language: “Better safe than sorry.”
The horror is back. The American media is waking up again to the risk of this kind of attack.
“Should a nuclear conflict conflagrate, what would be the consequences to the countries whose leaders have openly declared solidarity with Russia and its mad president?” Saraiva wonders. “Would these countries be taken for allies of the hostile nation? What about Brazil, since President Bolsonaro has declared his support for Putin’s attack on Ukraine, contradicting his country’s traditional diplomatic posture of neutrality?”
The long-term perception has been anticipated by Saraiva, who has foreseen a possible nuclear attack scenario and suggested, in front of the White House (the center of the US government), the construction of appropriate shelters to save millions of people. He spoke like Noah, yet few people in Washington imagined that this threat would present itself so strongly just a few years later.
THE TEXT IN THE WASHINGTON POST
“We are at risk of nuclear war,” this is the headline published on Thursday, March 17, by the Washington Post. “This week, the United Nations sounded a major alarm: nuclear conflict is back to the realm of possibility,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
He attributed this to the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had set his nuclear forces on alert when the war in Ukraine started. As the war drags on, US officials and politicians seem to think that this is also a possibility. Putin is unpredictable and is armed with nuclear weapons.
“He’s cornered,” Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) told CNN this week. “He doesn’t know what to do, and while we’re all excited about it for the sake of Ukraine, this actually makes it strategically more complicated and more dangerous.”
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said aboutPutin last week on CNN: “You’re watching a person who is now involved in a conflict that he cannot win. He will have to do something, some escalation, some amplification of this crisis, in order to restore the strategic balance with the West, in his view. And I’m worried about what those things might be.”
Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) this week, also on CNN: “This reminds us of the Cuban missile crisis, when there were only two superpowers with nuclear weapons. Think of all the countries that have it now, and what that could become. That’s what’s alarming to all of us.”
And President Biden told NBC in February, “We are dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. This is a very difficult situation, and things can go out of control quickly.”
Okay, but how worried should we really be?
Despite all the talk about what could go wrong, a government official has put it to me this way: the U.S. military has not changed its nuclear defense posture. This means it is not taking extra precautions to be ready for a nuclear attack.”
“There is no reason for immediate concern,” said this official, speaking on condition of anonymity, as he discussed internal deliberations. “We are not going to get into a nuclear war.”
The reason why government officials feel so confident is that Biden is not even close to offering Ukraine what it wants most: a no-fly zone. He firmly believes that this could lead to a direct conflict with Russia, which could lead to a nuclear war.
Why has Biden called Putin a “war criminal” (and what does that mean)?
On Wednesday, Biden used words his administration had been avoiding: “I think he’s a war criminal,” he said of Putin, responding to a question shouted by a news reporter.
Other world leaders have said they believe Russia is committing war crimes. But the Biden administration had been careful not to go that far, perhaps not wanting to get ahead of any international investigation. The State Department has its own view of that.
So, what motivated Biden? We really don’t know, but it is noteworthy that this statement was made on the day the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky begged Biden for action, in front of the Congress. Biden responded with $800 million in additional military aid, but rejected two of Zelensky’s most important requests.
So perhaps Biden meant just to give Zelensky a symbolic show of support, but naming Putin a war criminal doesn’t do much to stop the war.